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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


A Fashionable Education
Heather Whyley

aiting for the first speaker of the day to take to the stand, I sit amongst an audience of Moscow’s rising young hip fashion talents. Set against the backdrop of the industrial beauty of the Chocolate Hall at the Red October Factory, I am witnessing the educational programme, Practicum: British Fashion. The British Council and Mestnaya Moda brought British guest designers, journalists, consultants and buyers together for a day of talks and discussions alongside Russian experts in the same field.

The day kicked off with a talk from Hywel Davies, senior lecturer at Central Saint Martins College, London. Graduates include some of the most successful British designers of today, the late Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Stella McCartney. Movies and TV shows like “The Devil wears Prada” and MTV’s “The Hills” tend to glamorise the fashion industry and perhaps contribute to the competitive nature of getting a ‘break’. Hywel pointed out that whilst at CSM they nurture creativity, they also encourage students to “work really hard so they are prepared for the realities of the industry”.

Martyn Roberts is the Director of Fashion Scout, an organisation that gives new designers the opportunity to showcase their work to a global audience of buyers and media during London Fashion Week. He offered up a host of information on how to get financial support for fashion design businesses. International next generation designers discovered by Fashion Scout are provided with support and mentoring as well as the whole catwalk experience.

Stefan Siegel founded Not Just a Label, this website is a free tool that is a platform for designers to present their work to a global market. They represent over 300 designers from 78 countries. Stefan spoke about starting up a fashion business on your own and warned about the realities you face when starting out. It can be exciting but also incredibly challenging. The fashion industry’s business model is a hard one and many talented people find it difficult to deal with the business side of things.

The creative atmosphere was further fuelled by the ‘Local Fashion’ trunk show. A series of exciting eastern European designers exhibited their collections to a who’s who of Russian fashion media and buyers.

I noticed that even as a seasoned fashion stylist I sadly fall for comfort over fashion when it’s the depths of a Moscow winter. For many of these designers plummeting minus temperatures is all they’ve known. They are challenging these objectives head on with key pieces from their collections that work with the Russian climate and at the same time keep you looking your stylish best. I’m a fan already!

Inches is a brand new label, literally a few weeks old but if this female duo can pull this off at such short notice I have high hopes. They only use natural fabrics to create some very sculptural unisex pieces. I especially loved the men’s grey wool overcoat.

X’U is a Kiev based label that was established five years ago with stores in Kiev and one in Moscow. The designer explained that the inspiration for her autumn collection is based on the story of a city girl playing dress up as a country girl. A kooky mix of woollen leggings, chunky knits with country motifs such as chickens are mixed with metallic platform boots. Interesting, but it works.

Watch this space, if the Practicum’s celebration of Russian design is anything to go by, don’t be surprised to hear Moscow is the next capital of cool.  

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